Eragon, it’s old but it must be done

Okay I just finished Eragon, the first volume of the Inheritance Cycle (I have the other two, Eldest and Brisingr but getting to those will be a while).

I can see why this book has NO FANFICTION in the Books category at FF.Net and 77 Sue fics in the Movie category. That alone should be a BIG ASS red flag as to what epic fail the book and movie was. Now the reviews on Amazon are a mixed bag with 11-year-old (mostly) boys absolutely worshiping Paolini and adults and older teens (mostly) panning Paolini. Panning is rather civil of them, but I think that Amazon reviewers want to avoid typical cursing/slamming wars that are commonplace on IMDB message boards (which is why I no longer visit the site).

You know what I think Paolini is? I think he’s a fucking plagiarist.

Now I know many have said this and it’s clear that professional book reviewers believe this as well, but they’re working for big media conglomerates that publish books and broadcast American Asshole and they honestly don’t want to lob mortars at the sleeping dragon (pun intended) because guess who’s paying them. I will not go into the synopsis, you all should know what it’s about considering it’s been out nearly seven years. If the whole shebang wasn’t Star Wars set in Lord of The Rings, I might’ve willingly overlooked the clichés, but I swear there was dialog that I’m near positive that was ripped from movies.

This whole 497 page hot mess isn’t a testimony to Paolini’s determination to bring quality writing back, in fact I think that books like Eragon make more problems for contemporary literature (Twifuck, need I say more). If you want a real detailed review I suggest you hit up MagusX1 and blowshimselfupdude, what I really wanted to rant about was Paolini himself, and his writing style.

Now in my previous rants about print on demand (vanity press, subsidy publishing, self publishing) I did mention Christopher Paolini, and when Eragon legitimately hit shelves via Knopf in ’03 the criminal enterprise POD got a big sales boost when they used Paolini as their poster boy considering he was now a NYT bestseller and then 20th Century Fox signed it up for a film treatment. I can only image how many suckers went into debt but are still delusional about their “success” and “fame” (have you ever read the message boards at Lulu.com?).

OT: There was this one guy on a POD site that was giving “advice” to other wannabes on selling their books to major chain book stores. Spend money you don’t have on printing several hundred business cards, walk in and introduce yourself to the cashiers, security, and customer service, handing each of them a business card advertising your book working your way up to management where he was certain your book would be considered for purchase. I’m dead fucking serious.

I think the major selling point to these books is Paolini himself. Knopf wants to set Paolini up as the Doogie Howser of YA fantasy. People would be charmed by the notion of a home schooled 10-year-old child prodigy who is unhappy with adult fantasy. I started reading my parents ADULT novels at 11 or 12. I read Mom’s (idiotic) Danielle Steele books, Sydney Sheldon, a few of Dad’s Destroyer series, a James Bond novel, Interview With the Vampire (first paperback edition I think ’77), and Mom’s first edition of Helter Skelter. And the people I hang with were (nearly) all like that. We were the more “intellectual” kids/teens, but what we weren’t were fresh-faced nor cute. We are jaded, wised-up, and sarcastic. The majority of anti-Twifuck and Eragon haters are usually from that class. We were the above-average GPA kid that didn’t see life as an S Club 7 episode.

So Paolini decides to write this 4-volume epic at age 14, but didn’t get past the first few pages because he didn’t know what the fuck he was doing. So he did a “fuckload of research” (I could see that in the crazed Eragonian lingo, but then again Elvish was based off runic languages that still exists in modern Icelandic and Swedish), plotted it out for a year, went hiking around his Montana house to get “inspiration” for mapping out Alagaesia (Middle-earth), then banged out a first draft at 15, took a year to “edit” it, and by the time he was 17 his parents read the “final” draft.

Adding more fuel to this shit fire is Mr. and Mrs. Paolini. They are arrogant bastards. They have every right to hate the public education system, and while I don’t know if they were too cheap or just didn’t have the money to send li’l Chris to a private school, they were so patting themselves on their backs after seeing the book that they immediately spent their cash on a POD and quit their jobs to take their teenage son on a self-promoting book tour (something that legit houses don’t really do anymore- no money in it for them).

So in order to sell his wares Chris dons a Renaissance costume (think Bride of Leavenworth) and does readings at Mom n’ Pop book stores. He admitted that a really good day would be 40 copies sold after 8 hours of non-stop yapping. Then in ’02 in walks the Hollywood happy ending, the stepson of author Carl Hiaasen, the author behind the epic retard fail Hoot. Evidently this guy had an brain as big as Paolini’s (or at the very least doesn’t know who George Lucas is), showed Carl (the third stooge) who then went to Knopf and they gave the kid a contract right then and there. Allegedly there was some “re-editing”, but the sources at Absolute Write Water Cooler have reported that publishers have scaled back their editing departments to the point that a final draft and a print copy are nearly identical.

So in conclusion, stick to Dragonlance if you want some genuine epic dragon fantasy (Nightwish loves these books), Avi for some intellect and off-the-cuff humor (his cousin is Alan Arkin who provided the voice for Schmendrick in The Last Unicorn), and give a chance to some of the lesser known authors such as E. Rose Sabin (I know! I know! Harry Potter copycat, but she’s actually pretty good).

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For shmeiliarockie…

In case you don’t know who shmeilirockie is go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/shmeiliarockie.

Shmeiliarockie did this brilliant in-depth analysis serial on Twilight entitled, You Are Bella. I’m not quite sure if she’s finished, but her latest post was two days ago, and she looks much better from her last post after the New Moan premiere. Believe me, it’s okay to hit a wall. It’s okay to get frustrated. As someone who has suffered from depression since childhood, I completely empathize with you. Writers are complicated people (I’m one too- in theory at least), but take comfort Stefenie Meyer isn’t complicated. Know why? She isn’t a real writer. She’s a fanfic writer who got extraordinarily lucky, at the right time. Jealous of her financial success? Perfectly normal, especially during these hard times when college grads and students (even drop-outs like me) are wading through a hazy fog, that, according to the Fox Noise Channel, doesn’t really exist.

First off, you hit the stake directly on head stating Twatlight’s success resulted from a financial decision. Every anti and intelligent person knows this. Look at the trends in entertainment today: reality TV is a booming phenomenon. Musicians are prefabricated corporate packages- the Disney teen pop “artists” have an international following, regardless of language or region, the “artists” are carbon copies of one another. Greed is good (subprime mortgage crisis). Instant gratification is necessary (global credit crunch). Updating outdated (and just plain wrong) material is the norm: cover songs, prequels, sequels, and TV/book/game adaptations (this includes AvatarPocahontas with blue people and and smatter of clever CGI). This kills two birds with one stone: 1) hiring writers and directors who will demand all sorts of crazy things (union rights, correct pay, insurance, etc.) and 2) it saves studios money! They already own the rights to the shit and royalties are negotiable. If not, they get dropped (in the case of DVDs: 6 eps. of Scooby Doo, the entire series of Happy Days, the pop/rock soundtrack of Knight Rider, 21 Jump Street, the complete omission of the In Living Color musical parodies, and Quantum Leap just to name a few). Even though logic dictates that fans will be furious and a backlash is probable. Actually, the backlash happened.

But the studios are willing to endure the backlash, despite the fact that DVD sales are becoming their bread and butter. Flexing their muscles is more important than listening to the demands of striking writers.

You also address in YAB that as a fanfic writer and reader the most popular fics are Mary Sues, they get the most reviews and most hits. Mosey over to Fanfiction.net and- for example- click on “Movies”, then scroll down to Miracle. This post-Olys/pre-NHL lock-out ’04 Disney hit based on the Miracle on Ice USA hockey team gold medal victory over the USSR has a nice collection of fics (65 I think- but if you do an independent search there’s roughly 60 more under “Misc. Movies”). So why would a live-action Disney flick have a following like this? Well, it was well written and directed, it starred an A-list actor, and the hockey team was cast with very hot guys who were real hockey players (with the exception of Eddie Cahill). There are fics being written about them today, because the young actors got very little screen time (fuck you Gavin O’Connor). The most popular fics contain Mary Sue heroines that are either one of four things: 1) daughter/stepdaughter/niece/granddaughter of Herb Brooks, Craig Patrick, or Doc Nagobads. 2) A U of M or BU co-ed who gets a job working for the team. 3) A relation (or someone with a relationship) with a Midwest hockey player falls for an East coast hockey player (or vice-versa) playing to the team’s legendary regional rivalry . Or 4) a Russian girl who has a relationship to the Russian hockey team but falls for one of the American players.

What are wrong with these characters? Nothing, intrinsically at least. The fics are very creative, but are poorly researched, poorly edited, and the characters have unbelievable and often tragic backgrounds to provide magnetism and chemistry between them and the hockey player of their choice. But it parlays right to the fangirls. A particularly horrific example is Broken Shards Of Time And Space.

But this is all academic accounting, of course bullfuck like this will be a blockbuster. But here are a few tidbits you might not know about Meyer:

1) Thirty-five agents rejected her before the viper known as Jodi Reamer gave her “manuscript” the gold stamp of merchandising approval.

2) Meyer’s publisher Little, Brown & Co. is owned by Hachette, a French media group (multinational now). They bought LBC in ’06 after they bought out Time Warner Book Group (its original owner), making it the second largest publisher in the world. Why did this happen? Well at the time Time Warner was making a fuckload of bad business decisions. After 9/11 and the Dot.com bust, Time Warner reported a $99 billion dollar loss in ’02. There was also a four year recession (hitting NY pretty hard where Time Warner HQ happens to be located) from 2000-’03. So if my timeline is correct Meyer had to have completed the MS for Twatlight around ’03 (which took 2 months according to her), then found Reamer who shopped it around to different houses eventually landing in LBC which is probably ’04. Now Time Warner has suffered tremendous losses, and its sending out memos to its subsidiaries to buy anything that looks remotely lucrative. LBC isn’t stupid, they know (in the middle of the Harry Potter craze) that trends are shifting, life is getting harder. Escapism is more important than ever. We had a tyrannical president. The war is never ending. People are losing their jobs. Others are getting crazy rich really fast. And the sales of actual copies of books is chicken feed compared to merchandising. They know Twatlight is crap, but it’s the glitzy, pretty people that make emo fangirls (and lonely cougars) swallow it whole. It’s sort of like cutting into a cake with fluffy, sugar-crystallized pink frosting, but instead of lifting out a slice of the richest, thickest devil’s food cake you’d ever seen… it’s nothing more than a cardboard box. A prop, just like Meyer mentions so many goddamn times! Twatlight hits shelves fall of ’05.

So let’s recap: 1) Meyer is a fraud. 2) Creativity is in the toilet. 3) Vapidness is an infectious disease. Case in point: Sharon Lathan. Lathan is a cancer to Pride and Prejudice. There’s little difference between Lathan and Meyer- save one thing: Lathan’s first book was a fanfic. Lathan is a 50-something RN who went to see the ’05 film adaptation of P&P starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden. She admitted that she never read an Austen novel. She admitted that she knew nothing about the Regency era. And finally she admitted she didn’t know what P&P was about. What she did know was that Knightley and MacFayden were extremely sexy actors. Well I’ll give her that, one of the requirements to be an actor is to be sexy.

So she went home and pounded out a 54-chapter drivel fest of PG-13 porno entitled, Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One. I assume she put it up on FF.net and it had such a following she decided to hawk it on her own via POD (that’s publishing on demand- a scam). I found an original .pdf copy of the drivel on 4shared.com. If you’re masochistic or curious go there and you’ll find it- DON’T spend the money! Sourcebooks, Inc. (a so-called “independent” publisher) swotted her up and her shitpile went to print on ’09. It was so successful, it spawned two sequels: Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley and My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An Amazing Journey Into Love Everlasting. I didn’t read the other two books (I’m not crazy) BUT honest reviewers confirmed that the timeline was about one year, their fist child was born at the end of the last book, and there was NO character development for the mains.

Sound familiar? No, you’re not seeing things. It’s reality.

Here’s another thing you need to see: AVOID PUBLISHING/PRINT ON DEMAND!! POD is nothing more than taking your unedited, unpolished, unspellchecked manuscript to Kinko’s and printing out several thousand pages for a bunch of copies that could be bound by any print shop. These subsidiaries who may or may not work for legit publishing houses ensure that the author is nothing more than a glorified secretary, in a pool of thousands. The author, in essence, works for the POD company, getting paid staggeringly little for their “creations”. Whatever they sell, they make. It’s like being a telemarketer; you are your own agent, editor, and publicist. As soon as you give your credit card number to pay for printing (a set number of copies of books that will realistically never get beyond friends and family), you have bought a golden ticket to complete creative autonomy on your literary journey!

And pigs will fly.

Unless you are a phenom of a salesperson, POD is a scam. Roughly 20 out of the thousands of POD books that flood the internet get picked up for legit publishing. Zane and Christopher Paolini are often touted as POD champions, the truth of the matter is they got lucky. Zane’s erotica which is targeted to black women met her forum at the right time when black literature was being brought into the mainstream thanks to hip hop being popular with white people. Paolini’s parents were footing the bill for the Eragon printing when the Harry Potter hurricane hit the country. And the rest is history.

And finally to close my rant: how to get published.

I was on my way back from Queens when I met author Christina Britton Conroy (One Man’s Music). I pulled out my copy of Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah (this is also being optioned for the big screen like BHD and Killing Pablo) when this petite blonde woman turned around and offered me a bookmark advertising her book. She was sweet and engaging, but what really made me strike up a conversation was that she commented that I was the first person she saw reading a real book all day. So I sucked it up and had to ask her:

“How’d you do it?”

And she said:

“Twenty years, 2 agents, and enough rejection letters to wallpaper my apartment.”

But what truly made me respect her was that she was an editor for a publishing house where the Twatlight MS landed in her office. She called it “charming crap”.

So shmeiliarockie, don’t burn your ass out on the corporate crap NaNoWriMo. It’ll get you nowhere. I tried something similar at Lulu.com, and got told my MS for my helium-filled romance/sex-comedy, Forbidden Fruit was sure-fire publishing material I was ecstatic! Then I put it up on fictionpress.org (FF.net’s original fiction wing) and my beta told me it was a sucky, but good first try at an MS. It was actually my second. My first dark erotic anime-inspired drama, The Glass Coffin, was brushed off by a professional editor who I got in contact with through a professor I befriended. I still have her rejection letter: “You got talent… blah-blah… reminds me of X-Men… blah-blah… sorry kid, you’re just not marketable…”

So now it’s Canada or bust! The lit agents are fewer, the competition’s tougher, but I’m not stressing for a change. Why you ask? Well when it comes to manga-inspired-over-the-top-romantic-dramedy set in a fictional university surrounding its loser, egotistical jerkoff hockey team, I’m actually having fun. Now all I need is to talk to some college hockey players to get the NCAA technobabble straight and I’ll really be set!

Keep your stick on the ice… then bash some Twifucks with it!

P.S. I’ll still be going back to school so I can get a day job. But I have  no intention of paying back the loan if I can’t get a proper one.